Friday, 31 August 2007


After Conways Beach we travelled south to Seaforth which is another unpowered site not unlike Bramston Beach and very enjoyable. We met some great campers and as usual learnt heaps from those folk who have been on the road for much longer than us. Next door we had the one of the biggest Winnibaggo set ups I have seen. Stuart and Pam have been on the road full time for 10 years now and don’t look like stopping. We had a very funny night at the BBQ area with several groups and really enjoyed our stay of three nights. It’s very handy being able to choose your own site we’ve found.
I took some sunrise photos and also photos of some ducks which came to visit every day. Any clues on the name of the white ones would be appreciated!
After Seaforth we went on to Clairview Caravan park to recharge the battery as we thought we might go to St. Lawrence which is unpowered. Fortunately Pam suggested that we fill the water tanks before we left Seaforth as when we arrived at Clairview the water was unpotable and so salty that when you showered you felt like you had just been for a swim in the ocean! The ocean was very rocky, littered with sharp corals and the tide retreats so far out you would need a cut lunch and a compass to find water deep enough to swim anyway. Places like Clairview and Winton and a few others along the way have given a whole new appreciation to our water! We were at Clairview for the eclipse and although it was cloudy we were able to see enough to appreciate the event.
After we left Seaforth we drove to St. Lawrence taking the alternative route due to a fatal truck accident which was very sobering. After the highway was reopened we were quickly overtaken by a long stream of trucks eager to make up for lost time so on a number of occasions Ian pulled over to let them pass. When we arrived at St. Lawrence it was disappointing as it was very dry and dusty. As it was only very early in the morning we drove on to Yeppoon which is nearby to Kinka Beach where we stayed earlier. We thought it would be good to have a look at this part of the coast as we cruised through earlier in our trip. The weather here is now better although all the locals are still saying it’s the coldest winter they can remember. For us it’s quite comfortable although still not warm enough to run with gay abandon into the sea to cool off!

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Conways Beach

We spent four nights at Conways Beach doing very little. The weather was beautiful and the beach lovely. Our drive to Conways was spectacular, framed by the canefields where harvesting is now in full swing. The harvesting is all done mechanically now and without the burning we saw when we first travelled to Queensland with the kids some twenty years ago. Cane trains hum along the many narrow railway lines some seeming to run through front gardens and up the main streets like trams in Melbourne carrying their loads in open baskets to the mills. There is one in Proserpine close to Conways where we called in on our way to do the shopping. As we left after our four nights we came across the Variety Bash competitors which certainly added a different flavour to the journey. Some of the cars were very cleverly adapted for the event, like the ‘police’ car complete with flashing lights. They hardly needed an official police escort but there was one anyway.
On to Seaforth as our path winds down to Mackay. There is a huge bikkie gathering in Mackay with a couple of rival gangs so we’ll stay out for the weekend!

Pete and Dawn are in England now enjoying an 'English Summer" holiday. I wonder if their weather is as good as ours!

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Funny Dunny Park

You heard it right --- Funny Dunny Park is where we spent a memorable night on Saturday night. Once again, referring to our new best friend “Australia Wide Camps 4” we ventured off to Funny Dunny Park after spending a night in Townsville to recharge the batteries in the van. Well ……. If you have watched any ‘spagetti westerns’ with Clint Eastwood or John Wayne remember the Mexican towns they rode into which were windswept, desolate, dry and had four poles supporting something to provide shade and seats beside a forlorn fireplace and people sitting around looking like they had been there forever. Check out the pictures! That’s pretty much Funny Dunny! We decided to stay anyway just so we could say we had. As you can see it does indeed have a funny dunny which made me very grateful to have one in the van, however Ian said it was very clean.
After we settled in which didn’t take long as we decided not to unhitch the van (or wagon, to keep us in the western theme) we met the fellow travellers. Yes, there were others who made the same decision as us. In fact there were five other groups. Some have chosen to stay for ten days or more and one young man who had a quad bike for transport appears to be a permanent resident. Everyone was very friendly and seemed to be quite content battling the mozzies (in army numbers) and sandflies (in battalions). We were warned by two groups not to leave our shoes outside the van as the DINGOES would visit during the night and take them away, no kidding – so we didn’t!
We had an early tea after investigating the beach which was not very good and expected to retire early when there was a knock at our door and an invitation to join the others around a large and cheery campfire which we accepted. The news was comforting – the sandflies and mozzies would be deterred by the smoke! Ahh - what a great idea. However we had a great night and our hostess cooked a magnificent cake in the camp oven which was delicious and a testament to a true bushie. Even though our surroundings were a little disappointing the warmth and friendship more than compensated and in some ways we were sorry to leave and our neighbours were genuinely disappointed. The cost ---- a three dollar donation in the post box to help pay for water and improvements!
This trip is full of surprises and we are learning not to judge a book by its cover – the flashest parks haven’t been as friendly as Funny Dunny Park.

Friday, 17 August 2007

Bramston Beach

We bought a new book called Australia Wide Camps 4 after feeling somewhat frustrated at always finding the free camps and low cost parks after we had booked into one of the larger more commercial parks. After Wonga Beach we wanted to find more coastal parks and found Bramston Beach in the book. It was the best park we have stayed in yet and very casual. Run by the council the only draw back was we didn’t have any power or phone coverage so it was to be a bit of a test run to see how long we could manage without. We booked in initially for two nights and the caretaker told us to ‘go wherever you like’ so we helped ourselves to a beach front site on grass about 40 yards from the beach, if you don’t mind! There were only a few others there so we spread out a bit and decided we needed more time, extending to five nights. When we arrived the sun was shining and it pretty much couldn’t have been better. We sat out on the grass reading and I sewed for the afternoon. We also went for a long walk along the beach and saw some of the trees uprooted during Cyclone Larry. The park was closed for six weeks after the cyclone as it was very difficult to get man power to clear the area.
On Tuesday we awoke to less than perfect weather and decided to go into Innisfail and visit Paronella Park which had been recommended to us. It is really hard to describe but perhaps the best description is that it was the first theme park in Australia I think, having been opened to the public by Jose Paronella in 1935. It is a Spanish themed castle which had a ballroom, tennis courts, refreshment rooms swimming pools, waterfalls, tortoise and fish ponds and so much more. Check it out on . It was a great experience and something we might not have done if we hadn’t met a lovely family at Undara and chatted to them about where they had been.
Wednesday was not particularly sunny but lovely nonetheless and we relaxed for the day only interrupting our reading and sewing to go for another walk.
On Thursday the sun was back and so we took advantage of the opportunity to wash off the red dust and dirt from the van and car which had caked itself on after the last wash in Mt. Isa. We started at about 9 o’clock and by the time we had finished the car and van nearly everyone else in the park was doing the same thing. We started a trend, then sat back for the rest of the day and watched everyone else!
Bramston Beach is about 20 minutes from Innisfail and one place we will return to for at least the same amount of time and we managed really well without power too!
Friday morning off to Townsville and picking up mail, thanks to our very efficient secretary Katie.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Wonga Beach

First to see the sea and say it! Now back on the coast we had the sounds of the ocean instead of the bush. We arrived at Wonga Beach on Tuesday for a three night stay close to the Daintree area. This time instead of a kangaroos we have three male and three female peacocks who stroll in an out of the caravan areas, never a dull moment!
On Wednesday we went for a walk through a forest up in the Daintree which was recommended by the caravan park operator. We drove from Wonga beach up to the Daintree village and then drove onto a private property called River Home. From there armed with our maps for which we paid $10 each as entry to the property, camera and water (unfortunately, we forgot the Aerogard, oh dear!) we set off. Our trek took us through grazing country with droughtmaster cattle for company and suddenly into the forest. It was absolutely magnificent and we took our time enjoying all the attractions indicated on the map. At the end of the forest we came to a beautiful waterfall complete with fish and tortoises. We had been told we could take bread to feed the fish and they were certainly waiting for us. As soon as Ian threw the crusts in they were jumping out of the water to grab them. The tortoises were a little reticent or frightened of the voracious habits of the fish and waited until they had had their fill before coming out for their share. It was a lovely experience and we reluctantly returned to the car nearly three hours later, again forging (well stumbling across, or in my case falling in!) three little creeks. We could have taken our shoes and socks off but what the heck they dried out later back at the van.
On our return we stopped at the end of the street from the caravan park and watched the harvesting of fish from a large fish farm. We had ordered fresh barramundi at the caravan park and figured that this was where it was coming from. We were fascinated by the process of coaxing the fish with nets attached at each side of the pond by quad bikes which slowly travelled down the length of the ponds. At the end of the pond the nets were anchored across the front and the staff in wet suits scooped the fish into boxes. On Thursday we enjoyed the best fish we have ever tasted!
On Thursday we went up further, crossing over the river by barge and took another self paced tour at The Discovery Centre. This was great too and we took advantage of the personal audio guides which you carry and press to listen to information relevant to the particular place you are standing at. We even remembered the Aerogard which was probably a bit late because all our best bits are covered with mossie bites already! The audio guides also had an indigenous interpretation of each station which was fascinating and we learnt a lot about traditional tucker and medicines and also agricultural practice. We were looking for the cassowary bird but the closest we came was this sign warning us to be careful and to ensure we were “chilled out. not flat out” to preserve this endangered species. Very clever local interpretations of a speed hump sign!
Onward now for a couple of lazy days at Mareeba doing very little as the weather is not expected to be very favourable.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007


We arrived in Atherton on Friday from Undara. On the way we drove through Ravenshoe and saw the wind farm. The wind powered generators are huge but silent even as they are rotating.
We then drove on to Atherton to a caravan park with a very pretty outlook onto bush. We were actually on a camping site rather than a van site so therefore were located down the bottom of the park which was lucky as the camping sites are larger, all grass and very private. We even had a resident brush wallaby family. There is one male and four females in the group. The male lives on his own and meets with the ladies occasionally. He popped in for a visit and seemed unpurturbed by our attention.
On Saturday we drove down to Millaa Millaa and visited three falls which were all spectacular, one has change rooms to allow for swimming. It would need to be a very warm day – the water is very cold. We also visited a biodynamic dairy and felt compelled to sample some of the produce purely from a research point of view. We thoroughly enjoyed a piece of orange and chocolate cheesecake and can vouch for the taste and flavour - 12 out of 10! I actually gave the cheesecake 10 out of 10 because I don’t see how you can give more than that, but Ian amended it!
On Sunday we found a market and also a coffee mill which has the most superb range of coffees and also chocolates. We only had coffee and felt very proud of ourselves because we were sorely tempted.
On Monday we went to Yungaburra and Milanda and toured a Dairy Farmers dairy and museum which was really interesting. We learnt a lot about the pioneering families and also the impact the visiting Australian and American troops had on the area during WW2. In Milanda they have a series of mosaics which are really clever and detail the history of the area and the wildlife. The seat was one to admire not to sit in! As the afternoon progressed we meandered back to Atherton and surprise surprise found ourselves in Millaa Millaa again and needing to buy some milk decided to visit the organic dairy again. It seemed unfair to only purchase milk so we had a piece of the cheesecake again (between us of course!)
We really enjoyed the lush green rolling hills and waterfalls. Now back to the coast and the Daintree.

Friday, 3 August 2007


Please check the old posts, I've been able to add the photos now!

We arrived at Undara National Park on Tuesday around 12pm after an interesting (?) road trip. When a map says ‘development road’ what they really mean is a sealed skinny lumpy road with rough edges and wider lumpier bits to escape to when the road trains from the mines, some up to 50 metres long come thundering towards you. Believe me you leave the road completely because they have no intention of either slowing down or moving off the skinny bitumen. It’s their territory although they mostly give you a wave as you sit meekly on the side waiting. It is particularly interesting as you come to a peak if you’re unsure of the road ahead. It’s fairly slow progress but just a part of life out here and all the locals do exactly the same. No-one we have talked to has taken on the road trains (and won!).
Undara is without a doubt a highlight of our trip so far. We booked in for three nights and were busy the whole time. You can book in for activities, take the suggested hikes or just sit back and relax. On Tuesday afternoon we went for an easy hike of 5.5 km and saw some wallabies and clambered up some hills for the most magnificent 360 degree views. In the evening we had booked the sunset tour which took us out spotting for wildlife and watching the sunset whilst we drank champagne after climbing up a peak. We also visited a lava tube for the exit of the bats at sunset.
Each evening they have entertainment around a campfire. Last night there was a sing song which was just great. As we walked to the campfire we could see in the distance a big Aussie flag shining brightly. When we arrived, there was a huge campfire to great us. We had a great night singing lots of Aussie favourites. There was a group of students from Loretto College in Sydney staying in the teepees and they entertained us with a rendition of their school song. They were lovely girls and actually spoke to us ‘oldies’ and enjoy conversation!
Wednesday morning we had booked in for camp breakfast so we set off for the short walk to the campsite which is situated about 500 metres from the centre of Undara and enjoyed a scrumptious breakfast of billy tea, cereal, fruit, eggs, bacon, tomatoes, baked beans, toast and more tea sitting on logs with tables made from posts set up right so we each have our own table. It’s a tough life for us here!
Wednesday afternoon we went for a two hour tour of the lava tubes which are large underground tunnels created by the lava flow from a volcano 50kms away. They are truly awesome and really defy description. We have taken heaps of photos but it really is too hard to describe.
After the tour Ian put together a very tasty dinner cooked in his camp oven over the hot coals at our campfire. Lamb hotpot was delicious followed by star spotting as the evening activity. We returned to our campfire and enjoyed coffee with a young family who are also travelling on long service leave. We seem to meet lovely people at every stop which is great.
On Thursday we went for a lovely walk out to the Settlers Hut and back which was enough activity to justify doing nothing much for the rest of the day and justified us eating at the restaurant for our last night. We were very sad to leave and will definitely return.
Check for yourself at
Thanks everyone for your posts, its great to hear from you!

Wednesday, 1 August 2007


Just an overnight stop on Monday in Greenvale which is a small town 203 km north of Charters Towers on the dusty Gregory Development Road. The park is a “go anywhere you like mate” park. This town was built to house 220 mine workers by Queensland Nickel Ltd. in 1972 The town thrived for 20 years and the Greenvale Nickel Mine yielded 40 million tonnes of ore. When the mine was exhausted, the little town declined to 16 residents by 1993. In 1994 Melbourne millionaire businessman Chris Delios passed through the town and the next day offered to buy it all from the mining company, thus saving it from potential demolition. Several new mining interests have opened up since then. The picture is at the entrance to the park and is a huge nickel reclaimer.
There is also a monument to Stan Costa outside the Three Rivers Hotel whose famous song of the same name records his time working on the Greenvale Line. Stan wrote 67 songs for Slim Dusty and below the plaque is a tribute to Stan from Slim.
Greenvale also has the distinction of having a sausage tree (Kigelia Pinnata) which is native to South Africa. There are two trees in Townsville at the Botanical Gardens and one in Adelaide Botanical Gardens. The two in Greenvale are the only two others in Australia.
See we cater for all interests on this trip, mining, botany and country music in one day!

Will publish photos later, still poor connection.

Charters Towers

Three nights in Charters Towers - Friday, Saturday and Sunday at a very spacious park – a bit of luxury for this stop. We walked around town on Saturday morning and couldn’t help but notice the similarities with Armidale where Kate and Pete went to uni. Charters has a couple of boarding schools and on Saturday morning the students were in town in school uniforms just as they did in Armidale. Charters also has a lot of lovely old buildings including the stock exchange building which has an open walk thru arcade with a tiled floor not unlike the arcades in the city of Melbourne.
On Sunday we went to the local Argricultural show which was a bit of a disappointment except for the magnificent braham bulls and horses. We had expected, as it was a three day show commencing on Sunday to see some crafts, cooking and all the things we have at home, however it seems the show only really winds up on Monday and Tuesday. Sorry kids no show bags, they don’t start until Monday either.
Every cloud has a silver lining however and while Ian was busy reading (yes reading for pleasure!) I was off exploring the caravan park and decided the camp kitchen looked pretty clean and the benches where the BBQ’s are situated …….. can you see where this is leading? The perfect place to bring out from under the bed one of the boxes of fabric I had brought with me and some I had collected along the way and make a start on Kate’s new quilt! Over the two days I had a very profitable time and cut out about 200 pieces – only about 800 to go on this one. What beautiful surroundings to work in – I even had a little bird perched beside me for a while until he worked out I wasn’t cutting up food.
I'll publish the photos later - very poor connection here.